1. Ternus, Maureen MS, RD
  2. McMahon, Kathleen PhD, RD
  3. Lapsley, Karen PhD
  4. Johnson, Guy PhD


In 2003, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began authorizing qualified health claims for conventional foods. Although the FDA had developed generic qualifying language for these claims, the language had not yet been tested with consumers. We conducted shopping mall intercept research among a random sample of 408 adults. The research tested consumer preference, understanding and believability, and impact on nut consumption of 4 variations of the "B" level qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease. The FDA generic language was used as the control. The results show that one of the alternatives was ranked significantly higher than the FDA generic claim for clarity and understandability but was similar in all other categories, including the scientific uncertainty associated with the claim. This research demonstrates that it is possible to meet FDA's standards for truthful and not misleading health claims using consumer-friendly language.